New York politicians are about to flaunt their housing ignorance

City council members will hold a show hearing on Tuesday on two housing issues that the State checks in an effort to gain progressive credibility – but that can only expose their gross ignorance (or cynicism) instead.

It’s about the misleadingly named “Good Cause Eviction” bill and the renewal of a half-century-old tax break (called 421-a) that encourages developers to build affordable housing.

Council members want Albany to pass the Good Cause Bill, which would prevent homeowners from already evict tenants, except in the narrowest of circumstances. It would also limit rent increases (to 3% or 150% of the region’s consumer price index) on every apartment in the state, even those rented by wealthy tenants.

It would be to discourage building new rental units, forcing landlords to think twice about who they are renting to (perhaps for life), triggering dramatically higher rents for vacant apartments, and forcing many to skimp on maintenance and improvements. It’s a major losing for most tenants.

Meanwhile, the non-renewal of 421-a, which expires next month, would slam affordable housing by prompting builders to focus only on luxury units, so that they realize a fair return on their investments. Short-sighted progressives hate to see developers get a break, but without the abatement, municipal taxes and other costs make it financially impossible for landlords to offer below-market units. Like skipping a good cause, letting the break die will poison the housing market.

Of course, it’s the legislature, not the city council, that controls both issues, so Tuesday’s hearing is really just theater. At most, it’s an attempt to tie the two issues together: renew 421-a and pass the good cause – or kill both.

Neither choice would help tenants: if state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul want to encourage housing development, they will resist such a tie. The Good Cause Bill should die and the tax relief should endure – period. Any other combo will only stifle New York’s supply of affordable housing, tenants costs.

New York Post

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